Tahtib – The Egyptian Stick-Fighting Martial Art


Tahtib is one of the oldest martial arts in the world. Engravings have been found of people practicing the art that date back to around 2500 B.C. Tahtib was first utilized through military. It was taught to ancient Egyptian soldiers and used in battle.

Since then though tahtib has become less and less of a martial art and more of a dance.

The original techniques and strategies are still taught today though. The art has never really made its way out of Egypt. Still today tahtib is primarily only taught in Upper Egypt and few other places around the world.

As stated, with time Tahtib turned from martial art to traditional dance. The wooden stick has still remained a part of the dance routine though. The dance encompasses many moves used from its martial art predecessor.

However it is now primarily performed by tourists and is known as the cane or stick dance. The dance has also been related to a mock form of combat similar to many other cultures war dances.

The stick used in both forms of Tahtib is approximately 1.2 meters in length. Its movements are notable due to the sounds that occur. This is what has made the stick such an iconic parts of tahtib.

As it is moved across the body iconic sounds can be heard as the speed of the stick’s movement moves the air around it.

Overall Concept

Tahtib is an art that has one primary focus and that is the opponents head. Obviously this is due to the fact that the head is such a significant part of the body.

As most would know contact with the head in a fight can be decimating. It holds the brain which is key to our consciousness.

Targeted strikes toward the head are even more deadly then just regular attacks.

By specifically targeting weak and soft areas on the skull, a knockout can be achieved easily. Additionally this also minimizes the amount of strikes required and thus the energy exerted.

It’s easy to see why this was such an important art in the Egyptian military at the time. It allows soldiers to achieve victory swiftly in hand to hand combat.

This reduction in energy required then allows more to be done in battles.

Soldiers don’t have to worry about becoming tired shortly into battle. Not only would this tiredness effect their ability to defend themselves but also their ability to attack and remain in formations.

As with most martial arts tahtib’s attacking targets are also its defensive points of protection.

The majority of martial arts fighting concepts include specific points of the body to target in a fight.

This is due to the weakness of these areas. These arts then flip this attack into defense as they know these areas are most vulnerable.

It’s for this reason tahtib focuses on protecting the head as a form of defense. From their attacking training they know how decimating damage to the head can be in a fight.

Another notable point about tahtib’s fighting concept is its progressiveness as a modern art. In the past tahtib was an art that only men were allowed to practice. As of today though modern tahtib classes are open to both genders.

Even though this art has been transformed into a form of dance as well. The modern form of the martial art still remains deadly and practical today.

Obviously though the use of a stick lessens its practicality in modern life as a means of self-defense.

However the art still remains a formidable martial art that can hold its own in battle.